Breast Cancer rates are on the rise among young women in India. Do you know that 1 out of 29 women in India is affected by this disease? Breast cancer is the most common cancer in both rural and urban areas of India. The magnitude of the problem is huge, yet it is a very treatable condition. Breast cancer if detected early and treated appropriately, can be completely cured.
It is a lifestyle-related disease hence more common in urban women. Women who don’t breastfeed, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, women consuming long term oral contraceptive pills/ Hormone replacement therapy are at a higher risk of developing this disease. 5- 10% of breast cancer runs in the family. This means that about 90% of women don’t have any hereditary factor. There are genetic tests now available in India, wherein we can assess the risk a particular woman may have to develop this disease.
Dr Jayanti S Thumsi, Consultant Breast Oncologist, SPARSH Hospital, Bangalore, describes it as a disease of old age in the western countries, in India we see much younger women being affected. In our set up about 48% of women who have been treated for breast cancer are below 40 years of age, 4% are between 20 to 30 years of age.
Myths And Facts About Breast Cancer
Risk of developing breast cancer can be reduced but it cannot be prevented. We need to & can detect it early. Early detection is of utmost importance, wherein we can offer Breast conservation surgery ( we may not need to remove the complete breast), sometimes such the patient may not need chemotherapy, cost and duration of the treatment reduce and most importantly chances of cure are very high.
According to Dr Jayanti S Thumsi, Women of 20 years and above, need to do breast self-examination once in a month. 7th day of the periods or any particular date can be chosen. During self- examination of the breast, if an abnormality (lump in the breast or underarm region, Women 20- 40 years of age, besides should see a doctor and get their breast examined. Women 40 years and above are advised to do mammogram once in a year and consult a breast surgeon to get their breast examined.
A mammogram is a kind of X-rays of the breast, through which we can study the internal the architecture of the breast, It helps us in detecting lumps which are so small in size that they are not even felt.
There has been a lot of advancement in breast cancer treatment. We can now offer surgeries such that, not only could cancer be cleared from the body, but the woman’s femininity can also be restored. Newer chemotherapy drugs with high efficacy and better tolerability, and better radiation therapy techniques have ensured better cure rates in a patient with breast cancer.
General recommendations for women to reduce the risk are- eat more fruits, vegetables and natural food. Exercise regularly. Maintaining optimal BMI is very important. Stop smoking, avoid alcohol. Breastfeed your children for as long as possible, don’t use hormone tablets indiscreetly without a doctor’s prescription. Consult a doctor if you notice any change in the breast.
A woman is the most important part of a family, hence of society. Her health should be a the top priority for herself and the others so that there is well- being in the entire family and society.
(With inputs from Dr Jayanti S Thumsi, Consultant Breast Oncologist, SPARSH Hospital, Bangalore)
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